SpaceX Dragon Returning To Earth, Prepares For Splashdown

Category: Technology / Mar 26, 2013 11:07AM EDT
The SpaceX Dragon will return to Earth on Tuesday after three weeks on the International Space Station, bringing with it key samples required for future research. The Dragon spaceship was released from its orbital outpost at 6:56 a.m. and is now slowly making its way toward Earth with the help of ground controllers and the Expedition 35 crew. Dragon will make its final descent, firing its engines for the last time at 11:42 a.m., sending it through Earth’s atmosphere at 12:34 p.m. for a splash down in the Pacific Ocean. The Dragon spacecraft was originally set to return on March 25, but due to poor weather conditions forming near its targeted touch down site, the departure was delayed another day. Once the SpaceX Dragon lands in the ocean, a team of engineers, technicians and divers will recover the vehicle off the coast of Baja, California, and make the long 30 hour journey back to shore. Dragon, built and operated by the privately owned company SpaceX, was launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket on the SpaceX-2 commercial resupply mission on March 1st from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The cargo ship eventually reached the station on March 3rd carrying more than 2,300 pounds of space equipment, spare parts, supplies, and food. It was the second of 12 planned cargo runs scheduled for NASA under a $1.6 billion contract. A third mission is targeted for launch at the end of September. Video Source: Reuters.